This report presents results from the National Evaluation of the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T) program, a school-based prevention program that targets middle-school students.
The stated objectives of the G.R.E.A.T. program are to reduce gang activity and to teach students about the negative consequences of gang involvement. The curriculum consists of eight lessons offered once a week by police officer instructors to middle school students, primarily seventh graders. The eight lessons address such topics as conflict resolution, goal setting, and resisting peer pressure. Discussion about gangs and their effects on the quality of people's lives are also included. Although the development of the curriculum was not theory driven, the National Evaluation was based on social learning theory and self-control theory, which were deemed by the evaluators to be most relevant to the program. A longitudinal quasi-experimental research design was used to evaluate the program from 1995 through 1999. Waves of data collection focused on individual students who were followed over time. Some students were involved in the program and others were not. The success of the program was anticipated to be evident by more favorable change over time in the treatment group than in the control group. The cross-sectional evaluation of the G.R.E.A.T. program was completed in 1995 in 11 cities using anonymous questionnaires completed by students under passive parental consent procedures. The longitudinal evaluation was conducted in six cities from 1995 to 1999 using confidential questionnaires restricted to those students for whom active parental consent had been obtained. Results from the two evaluations were similar. Those students who participated in the G.R.E.A.T. program expressed more prosocial attitudes after program completion than did those students who had not been exposed to the G.R.E.A.T. curriculum. Two policy recommendations emerged from the research. First, police officers can be effective providers of school-based prevention programs. Second, to better assess program effectiveness, evaluations should include design features that allow for assessment of long-term or delayed program effects. 4 tables, 1 figure, 48 references, and appended summary of scales